If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we talk about Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) a fair amount. It’s a powerful methodology that offers huge benefits to engineers and organizations that embrace it by improving communication, reducing inefficiencies and eliminating errors that occur along the System Development Lifecycle (SDLC). But what tools should systems engineers use? With so many options, it’s hard to know which tools to invest in. Let’s see what the systems engineering community had to say about the most commonly used MBSE tools.
The Most Popular MBSE Tools, Methods & More
The Object Management Group (OMG), an international technology standards consortium, conducted a Request for Information survey of systems engineers to determine which MBSE tools were the most popular, how they were being used, and why. Their purpose in doing this was to get feedback from systems engineering professionals about what was working, what was not, and using this feedback to help guide the evolution of the Systems Modeling Language (SysML). While it is an older survey, it is still one of the most comprehensive MBSE-related surveys to date and remains valuable since the data it provided has helped to drive the development of SysML in the past, and continues to do so now.
Perhaps “why” is the most important question. Why are companies and engineers even using these tools in the first place? While there are certainly multiple benefits to using MBSE, in most cases, there is usually one major need that companies are trying to address when they select their MBSE tools.
The survey found that the most significant motivator respondents had in mind when they selected their MBSE tools was reducing downstream defects and improving the quality of both requirements and designs (72%). Other benefits like developing systems concepts and facilitating smooth communication still ranked high, but the results were clear; the primary benefit of MBSE tools is improving design quality, and reducing the number of errors that make it further down the SDLC. At the time of the survey, the most common systems for which MBSE was used were in Defense, Space Systems and Aircraft (19.6%, 23.2%, and 19.6%, respectively).
With the “why” established, another question had to be answered: what modeling approach or method were engineers using the most? MBSE can be used in many different ways, and it’s important for professional organizations and developers of MBSE tools to understand the way in which these modeling tools are being used by their members and customers.
Three methodologies stood head and shoulders above the rest: the majority of those surveyed were using company-specific methodologies, with functional and structured analysis coming in second. Tied for second, however, was Object-Oriented Systems Engineering Methodology (OOSEM), a top-down methodology based on object-oriented modeling techniques and concepts like blocks, use cases, encapsulation and more.
The “why” and the “what” have been established, but now it’s time to get into the “how”: What actual MBSE tools were being used for all this? The survey found that the two most popular MBSE tools were IBM Rhapsody and MagicDraw by NoMagic. Originally designed with the Unified Modeling Language (UML) in mind, Rhapsody can be used with SysML as well since, despite their differences, SysML and UML still have a great deal in common.
They are both high-quality MBSE tools, but many companies like Siemens AG, Bombardier and more opt for MagicDraw due to its ease of use and the enforcement and conformance of the latest standards, according to a survey conducted by NoMagic (we’re pretty big fans too!). One important example of MagicDraw in action was when NASA used it to help centralize the management of its three different Space and Communication Networks.
At the end of the day though, there is no perfect tool for every job. Each job and organization is unique, and the MBSE tools that worked great on one project may not be the right fit at all for a different one. It takes a commitment to quality combined with flexibility to ensure that model-based systems are built properly every time.
Want to learn more about MBSE? Our engineers here at Novel pride themselves on their ability to blend their expertise and professionalism with the creativity to develop the right solution for each of our client’s needs. Learn more about what this proven methodology can do for you, and how we can use it to improve your quality and productivity.